My Dad passed away last week after a long struggle with kidney disease, diabetes, and other associated issues. He was 73, and was buried with military honors having served this country as a veteran. I spoke at my Dad’s funeral, and coming up with words to express how I felt was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.
My Dad and I were close, and I credit him for everything I have accomplished in my life. I want to share what I said here on the blog for those who are interested in what that relationship meant to me, and also to inspire you to cherish and appreciate your parents, loved ones, and your life in general.
The greatness of a man, or a woman, is not measured by his words, but by his actions and his deeds. And because I believe that, to me my Dad was a great man. He was my hero and my role model.
I didn’t always listen to him, which got me into trouble on more occasions than I want to remember. But I watched what he did very carefully, and in the process I learned about what it is to be great son, a loving father, a loyal husband, and a humble, generous, and kind human being.
Now my Dad had a little bit of a temper. So as a kid when he got angry, I ran, real fast! And because I didn’t always escape, I learned about respect even faster. Respect for your parents, your friends, and your wife. He never told me how to treat my wife, but just by watching him, and noticing how others spoke of him, I learned the importance and value of loyalty, and of love to your other half, and in my case, my better half.
I always found it ironic that when I told him I wanted to go to music school, he wasn’t too happy. My earliest childhood memories are of listening to music, all kinds of music, in the house, the car, the park… gospel, jazz, blues, pop, he loved music. My life as an artist, whether a musician or photographer, is the result of the environment he created for me as a child. He worked hard, real hard, so that we could have a good home, a nice baseball glove, a stereo system, a really nice camera, and a collection of musical instruments. I immersed myself in all of them, and that played a big part in who I am today. And I appreciate the sacrifices he made to make that possible.
There was also the sense of humor. A sense of humor that I inherited, and that it seems I also passed on to my son. I can’t even get into all of the ridiculous situations we got into because of our jokes. Embarrassing our wives, embarrassing ourselves. But I loved to hear him laugh, and loved to make him laugh, because it was heartfelt, unabashed, and so much fun. Nothing made me feel better than hearing my Dad laugh.
Dad and I may not have agreed on some things, but he gave me the freedom and confidence to think for myself, to make my own decisions. To me that is the truest act of love. And of the many valuable things he taught me, it is the importance of love and generosity I value the most.
Those who knew him personally know he exemplified what it means to be generous in every sense of the word. Whether giving of his money, time, love, or kindness, he rarely said no, and he never said no to me when it came to the things that really mattered. My brother and I could always count on him to do whatever possible to help and support us in whatever we needed.
Now I’m not saying my Dad was perfect, no one is. We all have our flaws and our shortcomings. But that’s what being human is, a daily struggle to be better than yesterday, to get up and stand taller when we fall down. And Dad was a fighter until the very end.
The ideas and values he held at his core are the ones I cherish and learn from everyday. Believe in yourself, never be afraid to stand for what you believe in, and most of all love your family more than yourself. And Never let anything come between the love of a father and son.
The death of my Mom many years ago changed my life, and made me realize what was truly important in my life. Today, those ideals are more important than ever. While there are many, I think these 2 quotes capture them pretty well, and are worth considering in your own life.
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” ~Steve Jobs
“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
Thank you to all who have expressed their condolences and good wishes, it is in times like these that the true value of friendship and family is worth considering and appreciating. I have great friends and a greater family, and I am truly fortunate.
I encourage you to express love and gratitude to your true friends whenever you can, there is no better way to make a difference in this short life we live.